Founders & Affilate Planters

Spreading Hope Network forges a retainer-based relationship with founder schools seeking to learn from and contextualize our model. We select up to three founders each year, and are seeking candidates for 2023 and beyond. Meet our founders below.

We also work with affiliate planters (listed below) – leaders of recently launched (or launching) schools with strong missional alignment. All founders and affilate planters have joined us for a Hope Plunge.

Adia Garrick Wells

IGNITE CLASSICAL SCHOOL  | Shreveport, LA   |  Launching fall 2022

Adia Garrick Wells has worked in education since 2011 after completing four years of medical school. She previously worked at Esperanza College of Eastern University as a department head responsible for staffing, curriculum, student recruitment and retention and also worked as a Clinician/Behavioral Health counseling children in Kindergarten through age 19 in the Philadelphia School System.

In 2017, Adia began dreaming of starting a God-centered school, and has since taught 6th grade in a Christian classical school, and has also served as a Special Education instructor for grades K-3 in the Shreveport Public Schools, completing all necessary state certification requirements.

She is currently enrolled in a doctoral program in Christian Education at Southeastern Baptist Seminary. Adia and her husband Robert have been married for five years and are members of Springs of Grace Baptist Church. The have one son. In addition to being a Founder with the Spreading Hope Network, she has been selected as a Founder with the Drexel Fund.

Justin Denney

KENOSHA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY  | Kenosha, WI   |  Launching fall 2022

Justin has been a Pastoral Resident for Church Planting with Crossway Community Church since 2017. In 2019, Justin and his wife Catherine moved into the Wilson Heights Neighborhood in Kenosha, WI, and lead an after-school program at Wilson Heights.  As they built a network of volunteers to serve the spiritual, relational, and educational needs of students and families, they began to see that a school would provide an unparalleled opportunity to holistically meet the needs of their community. He possesses a sense of calling to make this vision accessible to all children, regardless of financial means. This vision and calling led him to found Kenosha Christian Academy for his neighbors’ children. 

Justin earned a B.A. in prelaw from Cedarville University, an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and is accepted to the master’s in educational leadership program at Gordon College. He and his wife Catherine currently have two children, Peter and Avery.

Kevin Clark

ECCLESIAL SCHOOLS INITIATIVE  | Orlando, FL   |  Launched fall 2020

An experienced Christian educator and recognized academic leader, Kevin is captivated by a vision of a flourishing human life—a life characterized by knowledge and discernment, fruitful and dignified work, and humble service undertaken for the common good. He possesses a sense of calling to make this vision accessible to all children, regardless of financial means. This vision and calling led him to found The Ecclesial Schools initiative, a network of financially accessible private Christian schools serving families in the Orlando metro area. The first campus, St. Alban’s Ecclesial School, opened in the fall of 2020.

Kevin brings over 17 years of experience to this founding endeavor, including 15 years at The Geneva School in Winter Park, Fla., where he served as an upper school faculty member and academic dean. At the national level, he serves as a fellow for The Society for Classical Learning, a board member of the Anglican Schools Association, and a teaching fellow for the M.A. in Classical Teaching at Eastern University’s Templeton Honors College.

Kevin earned a B.A. from the University of Central Florida, an M.A. from Reformed Theological Seminary, and a DLS from Georgetown University, where he wrote on liberal arts education and interdisciplinary practice. He is the coauthor of the book, The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education. In addition to being a Founder with the Spreading Hope Network, he has been selected as a Founder with the Drexel Fund.

 

Diane Spear

HOPE PREPARATORY SCHOOL  | Kinston, NC  |  Launched fall 2019

Hope Preparatory School exists to make a classical Christian education of the highest quality available and accessible to all families in Kinston, regardless of income.

Diane Spear has been a pioneer of classical education in Eastern North Carolina through Classical Conversations. She has developed a passion for Christ-centered classical education over 12 years of educating with this time-proven method. She currently teaches Latin and Bible at Christ Covenant School of Winterville, NC, and loves working with students and parents in Christian community to help children realize their remarkable potential as image-bearers of God.

She came to Kinston to work for Perry, Perry, Perry, & Grigg and married Kinston native, Gram Spear, with whom she has been blessed to raise four children over the past 25 years.

Gram and Diane were founding members of Grace Fellowship Church and continue to be active in serving their church and their beloved Kinston to elevate the welfare of this community.

Hope Preparatory School is located in a neighborhood church facility. Launched in August 2019 with ~20 students in grades K–2, Hope Preparatory School will add a grade level each year, through grade 6, with hopes of going beyond. Diane is joined by a gifted launch team and a board of directors, led by Pastor John Flowers, Jr., and an advisory board including Jimbo and Joan Perry.

Diane graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Slavic Studies. She also worked as a legislative assistant for U.S. Congressman Bill Archer of Houston, Texas, and attended Baylor School of Law.

 

Danielle Piscura

 

GARDEN Christian Academy  |  Cleveland, OH   |  Launched fall 2019

Garden Christian Academy (GCA) is a classical Christian school focused on the cultivation of wisdom and virtue in its students, expressed through Christian character and a Biblical worldview.

In March 2012, Danielle and her family relocated to Cleveland’s diverse Clark-Fulton neighborhood to found an intentional Christian community called Ephraim House. This experience combined with the four years that Danielle spent teaching ESL at the local public school where she focused on serving immigrants and refugees, brought the particular needs of her community into clearer focus. GCA will offer the high-quality, Christian education that she desires for her own children to the local community.

As GCA’s lead founder, Danielle believes that an academically robust, Christ-centered education can transform the safety, welfare, health, and prosperity of her underserved community. Located on the five-building campus of a multi-organization outreach hub called The Family Ministry Center, GCA aims to collaborate with the nonprofit partners of The Family Ministry Center in order to offer holistic supports to students and their families. This includes counseling and mental health services, as well as tutoring, nutritional advocacy, and arts education. Garden Christian Academy launched in August 2019 with grades K–2, and will add a grade level each year, through grade 12.

Danielle and her husband, Stephen, have gathered a gifted launch team, as well as a board of directors bringing broad expertise led by Julie and Ed Huck.

Danielle earned a B.A. from Miami University and a M.Ed. from Cleveland State University with concentrations in urban education and TESOL. In addition to the Spreading Hope Network, she was accepted by The Drexel Fund as part of their Founders Program.

Morgan Shillow

ST. PAUL’S COMMUNITY SCHOOL  |  Oklahoma City, OK   |  Launched fall 2019

St. Paul’s Community School exists to partner with families and churches in the work of nurturing wise, virtuous and skilled students who will use their God-given abilities to bless people for the glory of Jesus Christ and the flourishing of South Oklahoma City.

Morgan Shillow has been part of the South OKC community since she was nine years old. Her husband Chauncey serves as a pastor at Christ Community Church and they have one son, Joshua Moses. Morgan graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a B.A. in Elementary Education and is studying Christian Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before the call to start St. Paul’s, she worked for Santa Fe South schools both as an administrative assistant and fourth grade teacher.

Morgan was initially joined on the launch team by Abby Anderson, Director of Advancement, and a gifted and passionate board, led by founding board chair John-Mark Hart, and including Fr. Nathan Carr, Head of School of The Academy of Classical Christian Studies. They believe that the very best education must be accessible to all.

St Paul’s Community School launched in August 2019 and is located in a neighborhood church space. St. Paul’s aims to add a grade level each year, through grade 8.

 

Roosevelt Wilson

Harbor Christian Academy  |  Houston, TX  |  Launched fall 2018

Harbor Christian Academy exists to provide a remarkable Christ-centered education in two of the most historically underserved communities in Houston.

In 2017, Roosevelt Wilson responded to the call to help found Harbor Christian Academy, after serving in the Spring Independent School District, where he served as principal his final five years and assistant principal for four years prior. He also has six years of experience as a classroom teacher.

He is husband to Octavia, who teaches first grade at HCA, and is the proud father of four adult children.

The school is located in a newly remodeled education wing of Faith Memorial Baptist Church, and launched in 2018 with 14 students in grades K–2, and adding a grade level each year, through grade 12. Roosevelt is joined by a gifted team of staff, and a passionate Board of Directors, including founding board chair Beverly Smith.

Before beginning his career in education, Roosevelt served with the United States Marine Corps.  A few highlights of his 23-year tour as a Marine include Instructor at the Drill Instructor School in San Diego, CA, Administrator at the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy in Okinawa, Japan, and also in Beaufort, SC, as the director of the Lifelong Learning Center.

Roosevelt has a doctorate in Educational Leadership, a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, a master’s degree in Elementary Education, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Affiliate Planters

Sara Kennedy

IMAGO DEI NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL  |  Richmond, VA  |  Launching fall 2021

Sara Kennedy is the founding executive director of Imago Dei Neighborhood School. An experienced leader in operations and communications, Sara brings to Imago Dei a passion for the expansion of healthy educational options for families in her community. Her background is primarily in K-12 education, serving eight years on the leadership team at Veritas School and prior to that with Tianjin International School in China. Active in Richmond, she’s been a board member of the Richmond Christian Leadership Institute, teaches courses on history and race in Richmond, and has served in roles with the Attorney General of Virginia and on Capitol Hill.

Diane Beach Batarseh

KING’S ACADEMY  |  Nashville, TN  |  Launching fall 2021

King’s Academy is a Pre-K-8th grade independent Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, providing a classically inspired education to a racially and socioeconomically balanced student body.

Diana is an educator, trainer and presenter, having worked with students PreK through high school. She has a life filled with ministry leadership and Kingdom work aligned with the mission and values of King’s Academy. Diana has mentored and counseled teachers, parents, and church volunteers. She was the Founding Director of Mustard Seed Preschool, a Classical preschool, a ministry of Christ Community in Franklin,TN. Her classroom experience includes teaching at Franklin Classical School, West Harpeth Christian Tutorial, and a leading volunteer at New Hope Academy. As the developer of Ask Me WhoOo, the children’s First Catechism set to music, she uses her musical gifting to teach children about the beauty of God’s truth and creation. Before helping found King’s Academy, she served as Director of Discipleship and Equipping at Christ Community Church.

Marie Owens

CHARLESTON CLASSICAL SCHOOL  |  Charleston, SC  |  Launching fall 2021

Charleston Classical School exists to serve the children of North Charleston and surrounding areas with a God-centered education.

Marie Owens serves as the Founding visionary. She is a professional biologist (microbiology and immunology) and has been active in classical Christian education for more than twenty years. She learned in the trenches by home educating her four children as well as teaching many other students through virtual courses. Her invaluable start-up experience includes as a founding visionary/owner of a virtual classical Christian academy (Wilson Hill Academy) where she developed the science department and AP curriculum.

Jeremy Mann

The FIELD SCHOOL  |  Chicago, IL  |  Launched fall 2017

The Field School is a diverse, classical school that feeds the hearts and minds of children through rigorous study rooted in a Christ-centered environment, currently located in Oak Park and serve families living in Austin, Garfield Park, and many other neighborhoods across Chicago.

Jeremy Mann has served as Head of School since founding The Field School in 2017. He began his career as a special education teacher in a low-income public school in Los Angeles, then worked as a teacher coach in Chicago with Teach For America. He has a B.A. in philosophy and great books from Biola University, an M.A. in special education with an emphasis in urban education from Loyola Marymount University, and an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is currently a doctoral student in theology at Wheaton College Graduate School. He lives in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago with his wife Erin, a nurse practitioner at Lawndale Christian Health Center, and their four children.

Become a Founder

We believe God can raise up hundreds of visionary leaders to lead new God-centered schools for children of the city. Are you interested in launching a new God-centered school for children of the city? Get in touch.